Reduce UN Peacekeepers on Iran's Western Front

(The Hill) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion - In the fantasy-land Lebanon of the UN, as recently as November, the UN secretary general insisted that there was "no evidence" of Hizbullah arms on the ground in south Lebanon. The 10,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has a $474.4 million yearly budget and spends significant amounts on 580 local staff and projects, which actually mean significant UN cash flow to the Hizbullah-supporting populace, and protection money to the local power brokers. Today, UNIFIL has become an accessory to Hizbullah's ambitions. It is time to acknowledge that UNIFIL is oversized and over-funded. Meanwhile, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has begun its return to positions on the Syrian Golan Heights after an absence of four years, with only 975 troops and an annual budget of $60.3 million. At the same time, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), created to supervise the cessation of hostilities between Israel and its neighbors in 1948, has a biannual budget of nearly $70 million, with 153 military officers, 153 international civilians, and 91 national staff. The UN could take an important step toward reducing security threats along Israel's northern border - and save money - by rebalancing these three missions. UNIFIL could fulfill its mandate even if it were to cut its troop size to 3,000 and drop its expenditures on local workers, development projects and communities involved in aggression against UNIFIL forces. Conversely, UNDOF should resume its substantial monitoring in Syria and needs to grow by about $30 million and 300 troops, while UNTSO should disband. The writer is a former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division.

2018-12-13 00:00:00

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